Week 9 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Pregnancy Week 9

Welcome to week 9 of your pregnancy. Now that your very first prenatal visit is likely under your belt, your new reality might be feeling that much more real. There’s probably a mix-and-match combination of excitement, relief, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty swirling around your household. And it’s all normal. Pregnancy is a life adjustment, but you are also experiencing physical changes that factor into how you are feeling.

Noteworthy for your baby: Week 9 is a significant one in terms of his or her shape, and he or she is likely starting to give some of the new features that have developed a test drive.


Your Trimester: First trimester

Weeks to Go: 31

You This Week

Your emotions have likely taken you on a rollercoaster ride these past few weeks. But know that you’re not alone: Generally speaking, mood swings hit the hardest between week 6 and week 10, returning during the third trimester as you mentally and physically prepare for birth.

Mood changes are expected and are spurred, in part, by estrogen and progesterone fluctuations. These hormonal changes can affect the level of mood-regulating brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. But there’s more at play here than just hormones. The physical and emotional stressors of pregnancy, fatigue, and metabolism shifts can all contribute to your up-and-down mood.

Know, though, that when mood or anxiety issues surface in pregnancy, an undiagnosed thyroid condition could also be to blame.

This is very common in pregnancy and it’s not necessarily screened for initially, so be sure to be candid with your healthcare professional about how you are feeling.

At the same time your mood is changing, so are your breasts. While breast tenderness is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, right about now you might be noticing even more changes, like an increase in breast size, soreness, and itchiness.

The reason is twofold: First, your milk-producing glands are expanding, already preparing to breastfeed your baby. Second, the hormone cocktail of estrogen, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), progesterone, and prolactin, which helps to produce breast milk, is in full force, causing breast tissue to grow. When skin stretches, it can become itchy.

This rapid-pace enlargement will continue for another month or so. At the same time, you’ll likely notice blue veins snaking over your breasts. They’re in expansion-mode, too, delivering blood to your growing breasts.

Your Baby This Week

The embryonic tail that trails your 1.67-inch baby-to-be has finally disappeared, allowing for a decidedly more human-like appearance. Helping matters: Bitty earlobes are now present, the tip of the nose can be seen in profile, and your baby’s eyelids are fully formed. (While currently fused shut, his or her lids will flutter open around week 28.)

At the same time, your baby has begun to test out his or her joints, bending and wiggling shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. In fact, some babies can actually make a fist right about now and even put their hand in the thumb-sucking position. The actual ability to suck, however, comes a little later.

These movements can be seen on an ultrasound now, but you won't be able to feel this in-utero activity for several more weeks.

By week 9, baby’s heart is now divided into four distinct chambers, and valves are beginning to form. Also rapidly developing: Nerves, muscles, baby’s digestive system with its lengthening intestines, and even tiny teeth. Internal reproductive features, such as testes and ovaries, start to form this week, though your baby's sex still can't be determined via an ultrasound.

At Your Doctor’s Office

If your very first prenatal visit is this week, refer back to the overview of week 8 to learn what to expect when it comes to tests, visit length, and more.

If you’ve already gone, know that you won’t need to see your obstetrician or midwife until week 12. That said, if ever you have a question or concern, you should always feel free to call your healthcare provider. There are no dumb questions in pregnancy (or when it comes to anything related to your health, for that matter).

Special Considerations

If your mood swings last more than two weeks and don’t seem to be getting better, and/or you’re experiencing significant appetite or sleep shifts, it’s crucial to seek the care of a mental health professional.

“But there’s absolutely no need to wait until you meet these criteria to get help,” says Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD, a reproductive and perinatal psychologist at the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit organization that specializes in women’s maternal and reproductive mental health. “If you’re concerned or engaging in any unhealthy coping strategies, never hesitate to reach out for mental health help.” (This advice holds true for everyone, but is this is especially true for those who have a history of depression, anxiety, or any other mood disorders.)

On the fence about seeking support? Know this: Around a third of postnatal depression cases actually begin in pregnancy, according to the British Medical Journal. And getting help for prenatal depression and other mental health concerns early will not only improve your pregnancy but your baby’s wellbeing in utero and once he or she arrives.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

At your first prenatal visit, your healthcare provider likely told you about the first trimester screenings that can be done from now until week 14. This is a combination of blood tests and a special ultrasound that may be able to detect markers for Down syndrome. For some women who are considered high-risk for chromosomal abnormalities, more screening and diagnostic testing options will be discussed, such as:

  • Cell-free DNA testing (also called noninvasive prenatal testing), which is a simple blood test that screens fragments of fetal DNA in your blood

  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), where a needle may be inserted into the abdomen in order to examine specific cells in your uterus to diagnose chromosomal disorders

Screening tests are generally offered to all women under age 35, while diagnostic tests are offered to women over age 35. If the screening test shows an increased chance for a chromosomal issue then a diagnostic test, such as an amniocentesis or CVS, would be recommended.

Taking Care

If you’ve got sore, itchy breasts, there are a couple things you can do to find relief. “Ice packs and cool baths work to reduce inflammation and numb the pain,” says Robin Evans, M.D., a clinical instructor of dermatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “I also recommend lotions with both menthol and camphor. Both have been shown to cool and relieve itch while moisturizing.”

Know that whatever cream you put on your breasts to alleviate itch, there’s no cream that’ll offer double-duty stretch-mark prevention, too. “There’s really no way to prevent stretch marks,” says Allison Hill, M.D., an OB-GYN in private practice in Los Angeles. Creams are only absorbed by the epidermis, which is the top layer of skin. Stretch marks develop in the second layer of skin, called the dermis. “Often, these marks will fade over time,” says Dr. Hill.

If they don’t and you’re uncomfortable with your new “mom stripes,” you can always consult a dermatologist postpartum who may be able to remove or fade them with laser treatments or dermabrasion.  

If breast growth has you uncomfortable, buy a supportive bra with a deep band beneath the cups and wide shoulder straps, knowing that you may need to buy yet another, larger one (or more) to continue to accommodate your growing breasts. It’s also a good idea to avoid underwire—not for safety reasons, but simply for comfort’s sake.

For Partners

If your partner had her first prenatal visit last week—and she’s experiencing a normal, healthy pregnancy—she likely got official word that sex during pregnancy is OK. In fact, the pair of you can have sex throughout the entire 40 weeks—if she’s feeling up to it. The exceptions: If your partner is experiencing unexpected vaginal bleeding; preterm labor; cervical insufficiency (seen at about 24 weeks, if present); placenta previa (seen at about 20 weeks, if present); or another extreme complication.

“A lot of partners worry that having sex during pregnancy will hurt the baby. It won’t,” says Dr. Hill. “The cervix, which is the opening to the uterus, is at the end of the vagina and is at least two inches long. This acts as a barrier that keeps anything in the vagina safely away from the baby.” Plus, your baby is further protected by amniotic fluid, mom’s abdomen, and the mucus plug, which seals the cervix.

While healthwise it may be OK to have intercourse, fatigue, breast tenderness, nausea, and more might leave your partner feeling less than in-the-mood. “And that’s completely normal,” says Dr. Brofman. “The key here is to communicate how you’re feeling to your partner. Work together to find other ways to connect and feel close, physically and emotionally.”

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.

  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.

  • Talk with your partner about intimacy.

  • Seek mental health support if needed.

  • Buy a new supportive bra.

Last Week: Week 8
Coming Up: Week 10


Allison Hill, M.D. Email communication. October, November 2017.

American Pregnancy Association. Mood Swings During Pregnancy. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/mood-swings-during-pregnancy

Jones I, Shakespeare J. Postnatal depression. BMJ 2014; 349. http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4500.full

National Women's Health Resource Center. Healthywomen.org. Pregnancy & Parenting First Trimester of Pregnancy: 9 Weeks Pregnant. http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/9-weeks-pregnant-symptoms-and-signs

Robin Evans, M.D. Email communication. October, November 2017.

Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD. Email and Phone Communications. October, December 2017.